I could write way too many words about this album, but instead I’ll keep it short and mostly to the point. Ancient Brewing Tactics from Trappist is a 33-minute album about beer. The band includes familiar faces with scene-ties to the likes of Spazz, Despise You, and the metal-themed restaurant Grill ‘Em All. The latter (which I’ve never been to), is probably a good point of reference for what this is about. There are 21 songs here and they’re all beer themed, with play-on-word titles to boot. While there are definitely some party tracks on it, it also explores brewing history and culture. It often straddles the line between humor and seriousness about the craft of brewing, jumping from songs about homebrewing to songs about unfinished cans. Musically speaking, it delivers a wide breadth of hardcore. There’s power violence, crust punk, and classic hardcore with all the trimmings. Members of Municipal Waste/Iron Reagan, Torche, and Pig Destroyer provide guest vocals.
If you thought punk had a thick rulebook of acceptable behavior, this record points out that the beer scene has an equally opinionated viewpoint about how you should enjoy its products, even equating the two philosophies in “No Corporate Beer.” Preachiness is rarely a quality I enjoy in my music, and when the subject is about the “rules of beer” versus something like political rights, it feels a bit ridiculous (like referring to the Reinheitsgebot as fascist). The more cultural/historically inclined songs like “Tesguino,” “Wolves in the Taproom,” and “Hymn to Ninkasi,” for example, hit harder and leave a better impression. Sometimes it tries too hard, like in “Victims of a Bomber Raid.” And then there’s “99 Problems (But a Beer Ain’t One),” which is possibly the worst thing I’ve heard since the first Transplants record.
The main takeaway is that side project thematic punk/hardcore has a limited scope. Trappist stretches those boundaries nicely with some guest vocals and a nice variation in sound, but it feels like they’re reaching for topics over the totality of the 21 songs on this full-length.
6.5 / 10
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